Alberta Politics
Canadian troops in Afghanistan – for what? (Photo: Veterans Canada).

This is not a setback, it’s a rout – the war in Afghanistan is all but over and the Taliban insurgency has won

Posted on August 13, 2021, 1:20 am
10 mins

Suddenly, the provincial capitals of Afghanistan are falling like bowling pins to the Taliban. 

As of yesterday, the New York Times reported, only four major cities remained in the hands of the Afghan government. One of them was Kabul, the capital. Two of them were besieged. 

The last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan in 1989 (Photo: RIA Novosti, Creative Commons).

Which means, of course, “the government” is not really a government at all.

Kandahar, long the centre of Canadian military activity in the country, had either fallen or was about to fall. “The insurgents appear to be nearing a complete military takeover,” the Times reported. 

Last week the White House was signalling that whatever happens, the United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan is over. This week, it was preparing to send 3,000 soldiers back to evacuate diplomats and other remaining American citizens. They won’t be sticking around. Canada will mount its own evacuation, under cover of the U.S. Air Force. 

American officials are pleading with the Taliban to allow the U.S. Embassy to continue to operate. 

So this is not a setback. It is a rout. 

I don’t know if they teach the rules of imperial hubris along with Carl von Clausewitz’s famous rules of war at the Royal Military College of Canada, Sandhurst and West Point, but if they don’t, they really should. Here are two:

  1. The first day of an invasion is always the best one 
  2. The poorer the country you invade, the harder it is to subdue

As long as Canada is an eager supporter of the United States’ imperial project – ready, aye, ready! – we would do well to keep these rules in mind.

One of the last American helicopters out of Saigon in 1975 (Photo: Hubert van Es, Wikimedia Commons).

They never seem to learn in the imperial centre that sometimes in war, weakness is strength. That is to say, it’s easier to tame an advanced society once you have invaded it, than subsistence farmers.

Military academies do study how powerful armies can try to subdue people when they have nothing to lose but their lives. A better question for them, though, would be: Can such efforts ever succeed? 

It should come as no surprise that the Taliban is handing us our asses in Afghanistan, after all our wasted blood and treasure. The subsistence farmers of Afghanistan may be poor, but as America’s armed forces, and those of their NATO allies like Canada, have learned the hard way, they are resourceful, brave and patient.

And for all they lack in supersonic bombers and lurking silent drones, the Pashtun resistance – for that is what the Taliban always really was, their obvious religious devotion notwithstanding – clearly knows a thing or two about politics as well, both domestic and international. 

Both kinds of politics are behind the swift takeover of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals now, when the Taliban and the West both know their subjection of much of the country is inevitable within weeks or months anyway.

The process may be bloodier, but a swift and comprehensive victory might spare the future Taliban government the prospect of a protracted civil war with the non-Pashtun regions of the country, encouraged by mischievous foreign powers. 

A quick victory also sends a message at home and abroad that the foreign invader is finished, and the Taliban, as the force that kept the flame of resistance alive for three times as long as World War II, is the rightful inheritor of government. 

So once again our American ally is being taught that all the billions and trillions it spends on war cannot guarantee victory against a weak enemy unless your war aim is annihilation, genocide. And that is not a victory worth winning if the victorious nation hopes to escape damnation. 

Some may try, but it’s impossible for any Western nation that fought in Afghanistan to paint this as a victory. It is a defeat. All participants, including Canada, share in it.

Well, at least Canada got out of that mess in time to save some of our dignity, and for that, at least some credit must go to Stephen Harper. 

Even the Soviets had a better exit after their humiliation in Afghanistan than our American allies now face. 

On Feb. 15, 1989, the final column of Soviet armoured personnel carriers rolled across the AfghanistanSoviet Friendship Bridge into the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic with banners flying. Gen. Boris Gromov, commander of the Red Army’s 40th Combined Arms Army, crossed the bridge on foot behind his men, the last Russian to leave Afghanistan. 

As for the mighty U.S. armed forces, they slipped out of Kandahar a few days ago in the dark of night.

One assumes they hope their final departure from Kabul hours or days from now will be much the same, although they now risk more embarrassing scenes of geopolitical déjà vu, helicopters on rooftops with refugees hanging from the struts, as happened in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, in April 1975.

American historian and former U.S. Army colonel Andrew Bacevich, in his recently published After the Apocalypse, America’s Role in a World Transformed, described the aftermaths of the American defeat in Vietnam and the Russian defeat in Afghanistan. 

“The Americans were humiliated in Vietnam by one ragtag peasant army and the Russians were humiliated in Afghanistan by another,” the Times summarized in a recent book review. “And in both cases the effect on national self-confidence was grievous. 

“The Afghan adventure destroyed the morale of the Red Army before precipitating the collapse of the Soviet Union,” the reviewer noted. 

As for the United States, it survived that fate in 1975, and will probably survive its humiliation at the hands of the Taliban. But it will be harder for the divided States of 2021 to shake off defeat as it did in Vietnam, when the country regrouped and found new strategies to pursue its imperial plans. 

It’s not impossible, though, that a repeat could send the colossus next door down the dusty road to dissolution already travelled by the Soviets. 

For those of you who scoff, remember that the collapse of the Soviet Union appeared inconceivable in 1976, as the United States brushed off the dust of Vietnam. Yet it was gone in 15 years. 

What are the lessons for Canada?

George Washington’s farewell address to the American people in 1796 contained some good advice that might be repurposed for Canadian politicians contemplating sending our soldiers off in support of the next American adventure: avoid foreign entanglements. 

Does anyone still believe we were made safer or more secure by our role in this expensive misadventure? Of course not. 

Does anyone with a memory for bumper stickers still imagine that if we hadn’t been fighting there, we would have had to fight the same foe here? Also no. 

So if we cannot avoid the temptation to meddle, at least we should remember that the arc of history favours the final victory of insurgencies, no matter how weak they seem, so it’s prudent always to have a coherent exit strategy as your army enjoys that heady first day of an invasion. 

36 Comments to: This is not a setback, it’s a rout – the war in Afghanistan is all but over and the Taliban insurgency has won

  1. Dave

    August 13th, 2021

    Yes, Americans would do well to remember Washington’s words about avoiding foreign entanglements. This is exactly what Afghanistan became, with no reasonable exit strategy.

    You would have thought the US should have learned from the Soviet’s retreat or before that the British withdrawal, but I suppose hubris can really cloud a country’s judgement, particular a self declared superpower. Interestingly, they have done better in Iraq, which is a more developed and organized country, even though there was less justification to be there.

    Yes, day one of taking over is the easiest one and the US should have started seriously contemplating and planning their quick exit on day two. I suppose at this point this is a rip the bandage off moment for Biden. He is right a country like Afghanistan must stand on its own or not at all. Unfortunately without the US to prop it up, the current government there is now just deflating like a punctured tire. Perhaps Biden has also learned from past experience to avoid a repeat of helicopters on the roof images of Saigon, but it seems at this point the US is not much in a position to dictate the terms of their retreat.

    One good thing about the Vietnam debacle is the US mostly avoided major foreign military actions for almost a decade. Here is hoping they will be careful for some time before forgetfulness sets in again.

    Reply
  2. lungta

    August 13th, 2021

    virtually every one knew that no one had ever defeated the tribes in Afghanistan … ever
    except our military intelligence i guess
    we had to ignore this
    and buy the 911 myth to join in
    and buy in we did …. just fools
    “watch out now take care beware of greedy leaders who take you where you would not go ” john lennon

    “Well, at least Canada got out of that mess in time to save some of our dignity, and for that, at least some credit must go to Stephen Harper.”

    Harper got us nicely settled as peace keepers
    and then arbitrarily said we were to go to active duty
    most canadian flags came down that day
    and the only comment from the taliban was
    we can kill canadians as easy as americans
    needless to say
    every military in the world took note of our newfound duplicity
    and trust in us being fair peace keepers vanished … ty stevie
    also fyi
    american military have equal status as canadian military on canadian soil
    and vice versa … since the late 2010
    kiss your canadian sovereignty good bye

    neither military serves the interests of their people
    they are now simply muscle
    to enforce corporate interests around the world

    Reply
    • lungta

      August 13th, 2021

      during the russian occupation
      it was common knowledge the CIA was supplying arms to the taliban
      in trade for opium
      bin laden was a cia asset by their own reckoning
      when the russians left
      the taliban reduced opium production from thousands of tons
      down to about ten for the years between russia and the usa
      CIA business collapsed
      BUT following the us invasion
      opium production returned
      increasing several 1000 %
      business was back to normal
      and the only way to get this amount of product out of country was by plane
      uncle sam being the only game in town
      those caskets loaded on those c-130’s with the 30 ton carry capacity
      did NOT fly mostly empty back to germany
      repatriation flights x 30 tons approximately equals opium production
      so why did harper ban media at those flights arrivals in canada?

      any war has just been a disaster capitalist tool since WWII
      no need, no patriotism, no honor in serving… just a job
      security and pest control for corporate looters
      just muscle for a corporate mob

      Reply
  3. ronmac

    August 13th, 2021

    Oh well, guess that’s how the cookie crumbles. In all seriousness, I came across this tidbit a few years ago where a visiting journalist was asking the Canadian general what Canada was doing in Afghanistan since clearly had nothing to do with our national interests. The General replied this was part of our trade deal. Getting access to US markets meant giving up foreign policy autonomy and moving in lockstep with whatever winds are blowing in the halls of DC.

    Sure it’s all doom and gloom right now but I’m sure things will settle down and return to normal. In a few years Taliban delegations will be cruising world capitals and staying in five-star hotels in pursuit of energy deals so relax.
    https://mapcruzin.com/news/war111901a.htm

    Reply
  4. Alan K. Spiller

    August 13th, 2021

    Another Vietnam. Americans must be proud of all the lives wasted.

    Although I had three out of four grandparents who were Americans I sometimes wonder about how stupid most Americans are, when you read about Custer trying to attack an Indian village when they knew they were so badly out numbered, their Indian guides told them not to. The stories about Pearl Harbor when they saw 350 airplanes coming on radar but didn’t bother to check out who they were. Their love of guns while thousands of them are being shot many on a daily bases and they don’t do anything about it. The horror stories go on and on.

    But we can’t accuse them of being dumb for electing Donald Trump when we have watched how stupid Albertans are for electing these phony conservatives ,Reformers, over the years, and you know they will do it again. Reformer Erin O’Toole knows he can count on the stupidity of Albertans for his support. It doesn’t matter that he has promised to gut our Public Health Care system. Reformers are all about privatization and always have been. Make the stupid people pay while we give away their oil and gas wealth to our rich friends.

    My Conservative senior friends and I aren’t fans of Trudeau but we know you can trust him more than these damn reformers. While Jason Kenney has these ignorant Albertans believing that Ottawa is stealing all our money, Trudeau has been a blessing helping out where ever he can during the Covid pandemic pouring billions into the provinces.

    We know the Reformers wouldn’t be doing it, they are only interested in looking after themselves and their rich friends. it was former MLAs from the Lougheed era who taught me that. The last true conservatives.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      August 13th, 2021

      ALAN K. SPILLER: Very well stated.

      Reply
  5. Carlos

    August 13th, 2021

    IMAGINE what could have been accomplished in Canada with the lives and money we wasted in this silly war. How many more times do we have to get into similar situations to learn anything about the reality of life?
    Crows would perform better than us in this kind of testing. What a disgrace.

    Reply
  6. tom in ontario

    August 13th, 2021

    The blogger asks, “What are the lessons for Canada?” Website thecanadianencyclopedia.ca provides a partial answer.

    Significance and Legacy
    Canada spent an estimated $18 billion fighting in Afghanistan and trying to reconstruct the country. The war took the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers and wounded or injured more than 2000 others.
    As of March 2000, approximately seventeen percent of Canadian military personnel who took part received a Veterans Affairs Canada pension or disability award for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to an investigation by the Globe and Mail more than seventy Canadian soldiers and veterans who were deployed to Afghanistan had committed suicide by 2017. “Many had post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues related to their military work, along with personal problems such as relationship breakdowns and financial stress.”

    Reply
    • lungta

      August 13th, 2021

      so those statistics have been the same for every war or engagement ever
      easily assessable to any 18 year old and their family prior to enlistment
      and arguably the only real accomplishment of war these days
      is a fancy monument and a plaque at the legion
      and a better corporate bottom line
      9 out of ten causalities are civilian
      ptsd is what they train to inflict
      and yet the concept that the enemy might fight back with some success evades them
      for me it is hard to have much sympathy
      that if after hearing the facts and seeing the consequences they wanted to go a kill zone anyway
      life decisions eh? buyer beware

      Reply
    • Kang

      August 13th, 2021

      Let’s not forget it was Harper who took away their life-time combat pensions so Harper’s parasitic friends in the pseudo-finance sector could strip them of their one-time pay-outs.

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        August 14th, 2021

        I am well aware of that, Kang, not to mention his advocacy of Canadian participation in the disastrous Iraq war, and his support for the F-35 boondoggle, probably the biggest financial scandal in military history and a lousy weapon to boot. The Ross rifle on steroids, as it were! Notwithstanding that, he did read the tea leaves correctly and (a surprise to me) stuck with the plan to pull Canadians out of Afghanistan, for which he deserves a little credit. DJC

        Reply
    • A little bird

      August 13th, 2021

      That pretty readily ignores the Afghanistan of the 1960s. I would wager a couple decades without war and occupation will prove to be just as important.

      Reply
      • Abs

        August 14th, 2021

        Today’s reality is that tens of thousands of Afghanistan’s educated and progressive citizens are bring extracted, to Canada alone. Afghanistan will not be able to restore these losses any time soon. They are headed back into the past. My opinion.

        Reply
  7. Roger

    August 13th, 2021

    Good essay, but from my understanding “wining” was never the issue. Keeping the conflict going as long as possible was. US has to keep is one main industry going, the MIC. Secondly the conflict was to keep the country in turmoil so as to keep Russia, China, Iran etc out. Turns out that probably won’t work either. As for the “war” ending – don’t think so. The US will continue to harass the country with bombing from bases outside the country, financing warlords, etc, etc. The ‘mericans never learn it seems.

    Reply
  8. Jimmy

    August 13th, 2021

    The article brings to mind Jason Kenney’s enthusiasm for war. Whilst in Ottawa he clamored for more Canadian involvement in the USA and UK invasion of Iraq, was a cheerleader for, and made false claims regarding the bombing of Syria by Canadian forces, suggested Canadian troops be stationed in the Baltic region in response to the failed request made by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that NATO establish a base there to confront Russia, and made a bizarre and untrue statement to Parliament that during the recent war in Ukraine Canadian frigates had been buzzed by Russian warplanes. Earlier this year he suggested Canada instigate a trade war with the United States over the cancellation Keystone XL.
    G.I. Jason’s seeming penchant for aggression currently finds its outlets with his conflict with the nurses, doctors and people of Alberta.

    Reply
    • tom in ontario

      August 14th, 2021

      While searching Kenney’s resume, did you see any evidence of his membership in a Canadian Forces combat unit?

      Reply
  9. Political Ranger

    August 13th, 2021

    Soldiers are always fighting [as if they were in] the last war. And their generals and the politicians back home. It seems always to be a backwards-looking adventure.
    Regardless of how wars are prosecuted they only end when the parties sit down to talk.

    The how and why this war in Afghanistan was a mystery when it began and continues to elude comprehension until today. This stone age culture will regain control of a piece of earth that will become unlivable and intolerant of human life in a couple decades. Let them have it.
    If our military leadership wants a war and people to shoot at the greatest threat to Canadians, indeed humans in general, are the climate deniers and antivaxxers. There is today’s enemy. As long as any of these types are breathing they are a threat to rest of us.

    Reply
    • A little bird

      August 13th, 2021

      Yeah, once again, Afghanistan was bombed INTO the Stone Age. Comparatively the 1960s were cosmopolitan. The last half century has been fought for both the phenomenal MINING resources (cough Canada) as well as the geopolitical strategic access.

      Generally massive empires don’t fight over worthless bits of land.

      Reply
  10. jerrymacgp

    August 13th, 2021

    “[It’s] easier to tame an advanced society once you have invaded it, than subsistence farmers.” Thank you. I’ve been wondering about this ever since the emergence of ISIS in Iraq & the inability of the Western allies to pacify Afghanistan.

    When the shooting finally stopped in 1945, all three principal Axis powers — Germany, Italy & Japan — found themselves under Allied occupation. Allied Military Governments were established in each country or zone of occupation. Eventually, in less than a decade, most of those countries — with the Soviet-controlled eastern zone of Germany the sole exception — had functioning liberal democracies, even if imperfect, and civil liberties. I have long wondered why the West couldn’t accomplish the same outcomes in Afghanistan — & Iraq for that matter, since while the US & not-so-Great Britain went into Iraq for the wrong reasons, once they were in they were under moral obligation to make things better than they were before, under the “you break it, you buy it” principle.

    But it’s clear that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan was sufficiently industrialized or economically developed for the same processes that succeeded post-WWII to succeed in the 21st century.

    Reply
    • Keith McClary

      August 13th, 2021

      In Iraq the US had “deBaathification”, a genocidal campaign against Sunnis.

      Reply
  11. Just Me

    August 13th, 2021

    I can’t say we haven’t seen this before.

    Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) 1975.

    All things considered, this could be very good news, as a suspect the Taliban will pursue better relations with Pakistan and avoid a wider conflict. But if the belligerence ramps up and a wider war with Pakistan results, I trust India will stay out of it… but they probably won’t.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      August 14th, 2021

      There are many ways external powers can make life difficult for the new Afghan government. India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China, arguably, all have a legitimate interest in what happens in that country. There are many ethnic groups within Afghanistan that, with a little encouragement, could fall to fighting, as they have in the past. DJC

      Reply
  12. Neil Lore

    August 13th, 2021

    America wasn’t fighting the war in Afghanistan to win it, they were fighting it as the first step to invading Iraq so they could pillage it.

    Canada wasn’t fighting the war in Afghanistan to win it, we were fighting to appease America.

    The citizens duped into making statements such as “support our troops” were, in fact, supporting our politicians in squandering the lives of our troops for their political advantage. This is a good opportunity for us, as citizens, to ensure that we know what the word “jingoism” means. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingoism

    Those who believed the government line about going into Afghanistan to fight for women’s rights are invited to consider that we could have fought for women’s rights without ever leaving Canada. Also, going into someone’s home and pointing a gun at them is perhaps not the best way to change how they treat the women in their life once the gun is removed. Finally, the Canadian Army should probably have to find a commanding officer who doesn’t need to suppress credible allegations of sexual assault before we ask anyone to take them seriously as protectors of women’s rights.

    Reply
  13. Bruce Turton

    August 13th, 2021

    And the worst is yet to come for the women and girls of that nation. Lesson to be learned for us here is that no ‘fundamentalists’ should ever be let loose to become the authoritarian devastators of any people.

    Reply
  14. MoS

    August 13th, 2021

    America chose to wage an unwinnable war in, of all places, Afghanistan. Had Bush/Cheney followed the Powell Doctrine this agonizing fiasco would not have happened. The Powell Doctrine sets out eight preconditions that must be met before committing US forces to a ground war.

    Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    Is the action supported by the American people?
    Do we have genuine broad international support?

    Most of those criteria were never met. That left the US and ISAF to muddle along, babysitting an unresolved civil war.

    Before he commanded troops in Afghanistan/Iraq, David Petraeus assembled a group of military and civilian experts on asymmetrical warfare to produce a new counter-insurgency manual for the Army and Marines, FM 3-24. It’s excellent, digesting the lessons learned in guerrilla warfare going back as far as Julius Caesar. When I read it I was very excited. The Americans, it seemed, finally understood how to fight an insurgency. Instead they simply threw out the manual and broke every rule in their own book.

    The Americans and allied forces made the same blunders that caused France to lose first Algeria and then Indochina before also sending the Americans to defeat at the hands of the NVA and Viet Cong. With that we ensured that, no matter how long we remained in Afghanistan playing “whack-a-mole,” we had very little chance of defeating the bad guys. Petraeus, very early on, summed up the situation. He said to win, we had to annihilate the enemy. All they had to do was avoid annihilation and still be standing on the field when we eventually packed up and left.

    Reply
  15. Northern Loon

    August 13th, 2021

    The history of war is rife with the failure of attempts by invading forces to subjugate almost any population. Look to Great Britain where they are still battling the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh, at least now it is not on the battlefields but in the political realm. People seem to want to hang on to their collective history and are not likely to adapt/adopt what the conquering forces want to impose on them.

    A comment from a university professor comes to mind. He said that there are two types of Social Workers.
    -The first are the ‘do-gooders’. You will recognize them as they know what is right and will always work to ensure that their version of right is imposed on individuals and families.
    – The second are the ‘good doers’ who will work with clients to provide clients with the tools and understanding of what they can achieve on their own.

    Do-gooders are always satisfied as they can complete their task of imposing change quickly and they get to walk away knowing that they imposed change, but don’t recognize that their clients don’t have the skills. tools or desire to maintain the Do-gooders idealized version of their new life. Do-gooders are always shocked when their clients slip back into exactly the life they had before.

    Good-doers are satisfied as they recognize that their clients develop a new understanding and new tools to deal with life as it finds them. Good-doers know that their clients may revert to their familiar life, but also know that they have the tools to find their way to something different as the client now knows that they have resources both internal and external to change their life.

    Here in Canada we see that the attempts to ‘kill the Indian by controlling the child’ – as well as attempting to getting rid of all indigenous cultural practices has failed and will now be part of our collective history that we all should wish never happened. I suspect that reconciliation will be part of many, many generations.

    From what I have read the Canadian military seemed to have a ‘good-doer’ mandate at least in the work they did within the communities that did not involve shooting, shelling and bombing. Unfortunately they worked with others whose mandate seemed to be a search and destroy, and their mission was over when the members of the other side were killed and once they were killed the mission completed. They never understood that ‘search and destroy’ seems to be the perfect recruiting tool for the other side.

    It has often been said that war is hell. In my view it is a hell that once started never goes away. I suspect that the Taliban will use Afghanistan as a base to continue to grow and they will have a long memory of the pain and sufferings that was imposed on them by the various invading forces, and that we will therefore continue to see hell, possibly through future 9-11 type events.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    August 13th, 2021

    I don’t really see what was accomplished in Afghanistan. They way that countries have been going at each other it wouldn’t surprise me if World War 3 happened. Who in their proper frame of mind would agree to that?

    Reply
  17. Jimmy

    August 13th, 2021

    The role of war in providing photo ops for politicians was used by both our present and our former Prime Ministers. The current PM was filmed waiting at troops’ tables serving Christmas diners. His predecessor stood behind the counter of a well known Canadian coffee and donut franchise at a Kandahar services base handing out treats. Gone are the simple days of baby kissing. Today’s mainstream press seem to promote a more militaristic world view that includes a tough guy image of leaders. Voters are continually exposed to hearing MLA’s or MP’s use the terms “Stand up for” and “fight for”. Honest and sincere representation would suffice.

    Did I forget J.K.’s war room in a previous comment today? Keep up the sterling work guys. We need to be protected not just from Bigfoot, but from all those who express concern for the environment and for the survival of civilization on an increasingly hot and burning planet.

    Reply
  18. Pogo

    August 13th, 2021

    What was.. We told you so? Can I be host jeopardy now?

    Reply
    • Pogo

      August 13th, 2021

      Good Lord!

      Reply
  19. Bill Malcolm

    August 13th, 2021

    Vengeance for 9/11 is what led to the US and its suborned “Allies” under NATO Section 5 to invade Afghanistan almost twenty years ago. The US demanded the Taliban hand over Osama ben Laden. They didn’t say no, they said prove he was responsible for 9/11 and we will. The US, as is its imperial wont, said hand him over anyway, NOW. The shortest and yet reasonable sum-up of the actions of the US idiots in charge I’ve seen is here, written a decade ago:

    https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/united-states-invade-afghanistan/

    I claim no knowledge of Afghanistan beyond what I was told by my grandparents who lived in Lahore for decades prior to the Partition of India. The upshot of that always boiled down to the Pashtuns would fight until the end, and, remember the Khyber Pass. The Brits got their ass thoroughly kicked in Afghanistan. The Russkies followed, and now add the Yankees to the list. The polyglot Afghans may be tribal, but they seem to get on quite well with each other when it comes to kicking out unwanted outside interference and physical attack. Rather like warring couples who yet turn together in anger on any friend who picks a side to favour. Mind your own business features strongly in Shakespeare’s plays, particularly Romeo and Juliet. A prescient and observant lad, old Billy. He also said major wars always start in hot weather, as in summer.

    Listening to Canadian vets opine recently, mostly about the safe rescue of those Afghans who aided them, I wonder what nonsense, military or otherwise, was planted in their brains as justifiable reasons to fight over there. Afghanistan is and was of zero importance to Canadian interests and no threat to us or indeed anyone else at all. It was a convenient punching bag for bloodlust vengeance. The invocation of NATO Section 5 was therefore ludicrous. The Americans, with over 70 armed illegal interventions around the world since WW2, seem intent on sending otherwise unemployable undereducated volunteer GIs to beat up any country that doesn’t acknowledge US hegemony for business interests. That’s the long and short of it in most cases. Afghanistan, a little different, got beaten up and hundreds of thousands killed as retribution for 9/11 because it didn’t hand over ben Laden when ordered to do so. No other reason whatsoever. It was an illegal invasion, just as Iraq and Syria were after that. It also seems completely racist — the Viet Nam war surely was, and the campaign there didn’t run true to the Hollywood John Wayne BS Americans were raised on. The local population objected adamantly to having louts from America killing them off, not surprisingly, and didn’t surrender after five minutes like America’s enemies in movies.

    So we’ve had PTSD vets for 50 years now in many Western countries, people who’ve witnessed the most depraved and useless killings all to protect the hegemony of the financial plutocrats, sold to the boots as patriotism and the need to protect their home towns from hypothetical marauding “commies, savages and dictators”. All equipped with the latest in rowboats to cross oceans. Always eager to prove themselves as prime idiots, in my personal view, now the West attempts to vilify and provoke the Chinese. They have more than rowboats with which to respond, and all financed by the industrialization of the country by Western corporate interests looking to save labour costs to improve their bottom lines, while impoverishing their own fellow citizens at home who lost jobs by the millions.

    Good commentary, DJC. Thanks.

    Reply
  20. ralwoe

    August 13th, 2021

    The US war in Afghanistan ‘was worse than a crime, it was a mistake.’

    Reply
  21. Bret Larson

    August 14th, 2021

    Why regal military commanders? It’s not like they wouldn’t have told the politicians that Afghanistan wasn’t “worth” holding. Which brings up the depressing fact that other people’s democracy isn’t “worth” spending your children’s blood on. It brings up the spectre that the egocentrism of western democracies will be their end.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      August 14th, 2021

      Canada’s fight in Afghanistan had very little to either preserving or encouraging democracy. DJC

      Reply
  22. Just Me

    August 14th, 2021

    And the dark comedy in Afghanistan continues …

    In a recent address to the international media, the Afghani president declared that a “successful” defence of the nation is close at hand — all they need to do is “reorganize” the Afghan military. Wow, it’s good to see that priorities still matter.

    I suspect there will be a return of a farce like the Iraqi Information Minister, with declarations that, even in the darkest moments, victory is at land, because the nation is strong and their armies are powerful. Meanwhile in the background, Taliban insurgents are making faces at the camera.

    Meanwhile, in Alberta, the pandemic is over…wait, what? Not quite over? But, but… muh FreeDUMBS?

    Reply

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